One of the core tenants of modern marketing is to deliver the right content, to the right people, at the right time. It seems that most modern marketers are totally down with this concept and everyone I speak with seems to understand it. But if that's the case, why are so few companies actually pulling it off?
According to SiriusDecisions, 60 to 70 percent of the content created by the B2B orgs goes unused. And the primary reason for this is because the topics of this content are not relevant to buyer audiences.
Think about it. Look at all of the marketing material you're bombarded with (at work and at home) and ask yourself how much of it really hits you where you live. Whether we're talking about emails, social adds, display advertising or even old-school direct mail, the vast majority of the content we see is simply not relevant to us. From my experience and the folks I've been discussing this with lately, I'd estimate that somewhere around 95% of the content we see is irrelevant.
Sadly, the companies we expect to have this nailed; companies we do repeated business with, tend to fail time and time again at delivering relevant content to customers they should know pretty well. Whether it's a promotion for a product you already own, or a service that doesn't fit your business, it happens all the time. But why?
We could go into the rabbit hole discussion of big data and disparate systems, but that would be a blog article (or better yet a book) all on its own. We all know that companies have customer data in soloed systems and this is a big part of the problem. However, let's just tackle what a marketer in an average enterprise B2B company has to work with. Better yet, let's look at a live example from a company in the financial services sector.
Let me tell one of the many success stories we're hearing from Cetera Financial. First, a little about this impressive organization. Cetera Financial Group is the second largest independent financial advisor network in the United States. Cetera provides award-winning wealth management and advisory platforms, comprehensive broker-dealer and registered investment adviser services, and innovative technology for more than 9,700 RIAs and over 500 financial institutions nationwide.
Cetera has been a front-runner in the marketing automation world for some time - especially in the financial services space. However in the early days of their modern marketing journey, they had some definite difficulties in engaging with their target audience within the wealth management space. The difficulties weren't so much around the commonly discussed regulations (SEC, FINRA, etc.) in the wealth management world but really around the uniqueness of their audience.
Cetera's audience is by and large financial advisors. These people are limited on time, they're highly educated, and highly critical of the content they engage with. The traditional white papers, and datasheets that Cetera had been using for demand gen were just not cutting it with these guys.
One channel that did stand out above the others in terms of success was webinars. The reason for their success here is that they realized that in order to get the attention of their audience, they'd need to provide the audience with something they desperately needed; which was help in understanding the complex and ever-changing nuances of managing and selling within the wealth management space. They brought in leading industry experts to demystify issues around topics such as social selling, career planning, future proofing a client practice and more.
Now, as effective as this was, it's not the webinars themselves that I'd like to point out, but rather how they used them.
As I mentioned above, one of the most difficult challenges that marketers face is determining what content their audience really wants when the only info they have on their customers is basic content data. Check out what Cetera did to fill this gap. Since their webinars were quite successful, they came to the realization that they could leverage the registration process, as well as polling questions during the events themselves to get extremely detailed and priceless information from their customers.
Since they knew these contacts were highly interested in the webinars, they knew they could go beyond just asking for basic contact info on the registration forms. They could ask qualifying questions on the pain-points of the registrants. Now, this doesn't mean Cetera presented them with a monster form, they're smarter than that. They know that leveraging the best marketing automation tools, marketers can use tactics such as progressive profiling, to ensure that they only ask the questions they need. Additionally, during the webinars they could ask probing questions in the form of a poll to gain even deeper insights into what their audience cares about.
Both the registration data and polling answers automatically flow into the marketing automation platforms which can then be leveraged to run highly targeted nurture campaigns but more importantly, the data can be used to determine what content to create. Thus allowing their target audience to truly dictate the kind of content that is created. Talk about creating the right content for the right person!
The webinar program that Cetera has in place is definitely what I'd call best practice and a lot of marketers can learn from this approach. If you'd like to hear more about that Cetera did, check out the podcast that Rob Woods did recently on our VerticalX Series. Now, a question for you (or maybe two). Have you done this with webinars and/or other offers? If so, what did you do and how successful was it?